The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes  - Richard Lancelyn Green,  Arthur Conan Doyle Well, what can I say? It's Sherlock Holmes. Even if you've never read any of Conan Doyle's stories (and shame on you!) you probably still know quite a bit about this figure that is one of the most iconic in literature and even know details of many of his cases. Prior to this more systematic read-through I had only actually read a few of the stories and much of my knowledge came from the (admittedly excellent) BBC TV series starring the late great Jeremy Brett (the best of all Holmes').

These twelve stories represent the first of his continuing adventures published after the initial novels _A Study in Scarlet_ and _The Sign of Four_ (which I have yet to read). They are all uniformly entertaining and well-written, though some stood out to me, most notably "A Scandal in Bohemia" where Holmes is actually beaten, and not by a criminal nemesis like Moriarty, but by the brilliant Irene Adler; "The Boscombe Valley Mystery" which encompases unrequited love, outlaws on the frontier, and treacherous blackmailing; "The Five Orange Pips" which pits Holmes against the nefarious machinations of the KKK; "The Man with the Twisted Lip" one of the many cases which makes use of mistaken identity, and "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" which portrays the also common theme of familial dysfunction and paternal greed.

I was a little surprised to note a few things in my reading, one of which was the number of strong female characters Doyle made use of. From Irene Adler and Violet Hunter, who both impress Holmes with their intellignece, courage and ability, to the no nonsense Hatty Doran and Mrs. Toller. Next, I think Doyle may not have had much of a fondness for dogs given their characterisation in "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches" and (from what I gather at least) _The Hound of the Baskervilles_...maybe he was a cat guy? It was curious to see several references also made to Holmes' great physical strength...something I wasn't particularly aware of. I had mistakenly thought him to be primarily an intellectual hero. Finally it was a bit surprising to see the number of times that Holmes does not "get his man" and the criminals escape, perhaps to be punished by Fate, but this is not always the case. Somewhat tied in with this last point: Holmes seems content to let his fair share of criminals escape 'justice' so long as he sees the validity of their actions or believes in the sincerity of their contrition. He's simply interested in the puzzle (and crime merely gives it more zest), not really in meting out justice per se.

Many plot elements seem to recur in these stories, but I don't know that this is a major detraction since the main draw of all of these tales is, of course, the unparalleled character of Holmes himself and the incredible deductive method he uses. Yes it's true, Holmes is a bit of a prick and he always likes to show off (though he'd never admit it). He is, however, nearly always right, so can you blame him for having a somewhat cool disdain for us mere mortals? He also has enough failings to make him interesting (whether it's his monomania when it comes to solving puzzles, his drug addiction, or his passive-aggressive need to be praised by his somewhat dim compatriot Dr. Watson). He was also made somewhat more sympathetic (to me at least) in his ironic disdain for many of the upper class people that become his clients (most notably the King of Bohemia and Lord Robert St. Simon who are at the receiving end a few choice bon mots) and his very real sympathy for the weak victims preyed upon by the strong and unscrupulous in his cases.

Overall, Sherlock Holmes' adventures provide very enjoyable reading and one almost feels they are walking through the foggy streets of London, or across the blustery English countryside with him in these reminiscences of the good doctor. I should note here that I was listening to the free Librivox audio recording for this "read" as performed by Ruth Golding. She was an excellent narrator with good pace and excellent dramatic feeling. Her character of Holmes was quite good, but I must admit that I found Watson's 'voice' a little bit odd (I think this may have contributed above and beyond anything in the actual text to making him appear a bit of a simpleton), and some of the secondary characters followed suit. Overall though, a very enjoyable listen.